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Andrew Sutherland "Sutho" (Surrey outposts)
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Childish Prodigy
Childish Prodigy
Price: £11.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highlight so far on my backwards journey through Kurt Vile's catalogue, 28 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Childish Prodigy (Audio CD)
My stereo has had Kurt Vile on constant rotation lately... he's pretty much monopolising my ears. Weird, because only a month ago I'd judged the book by its cover and nigh-on written him off as being `not-my-cup-of-tea' for reasons that continue to escape me. Anyway... one leap of faith, five albums and a couple of EPs later and I've undertaken an almighty volte-face: each of his records has now struck a real chord... but it's this one above all that has really squirmed its way under my skull. Oddly, I really not being much taken at first introduction - it's been the same story with each album; they've all taken a good half dozen listens to reveal their considerable but deep-rooted charms. For once the cliché of `the grower' seems apt: something weird happens the sixth or seventh time you play a Kurt Vile album! I began with his most recent effort, Wakin On A Pretty Daze - his most focused set of songs and hence a decent start point - and worked backwards, through the much-touted Smoke Ring For My Halo (mellower, looser, less cosmic) and ultimately ending up at the beginning with Constant Hitmaker and God Is Saying This To You, both collections of earlier home recordings that pre-date Childish Prodigy, which is technically his third record but in another sense feels like his first `proper' album. Gone is the pieced-together lo-fi aesthetic of the earlier records: C.P. is a cohesive entity, best enjoyed en bloc rather than shuffled and dipped into and out of. Half the songs here have full-band-style arrangements that border on the 'catchy'... albeit in a very loose, offhand, psychedelic-rock sense... also they have a vaguely `bummerish', downbeat quality that stops them descending/ascending into purer 'pop' territory (Amplifier, with its skittering, propulsive drums and out-of-nowhere, gorgeous trumpet coda, being my favourite of the full-band songs). The other half of the record comprises much more stripped-down songs, the best of which are really pretty stark and have a strange, stupefactive, almost hypnotic quality; most notably Dead Alive and the absolutely-spellbinding Heart Attack, with its recurrent, circling guitar line and repeated refrain of "You better get yer head, re-screwed on". They sit beautifully beside the more fulsome tracks and, after a while, proceedings really do meld into something that, to invoke another rock music cliché, amounts to far greater than the sum of its parts.


Heli [DVD]
Heli [DVD]
Dvd ~ Armando Espitia
Price: £11.61

4.0 out of 5 stars Very strong meat, served New Wave Mexican-style, 26 Oct 2014
This review is from: Heli [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There is no getting away from the fact that this film is very tough to watch at times and I say that as a fairly season viewer of raw, ‘gritty’ cinema. That said, my wife is absolutely not, and so I watched this solo: I can say for sure that she would have loathed its gruesome depictions of (sexual) violence and extended torture scenes, irrespective of the film’s wider merits, which are actually considerable. But the violence, whilst gruesome, is not in my view gratuitous, and hence doesn’t undermine the artistic value of the film, which, given that it centres on a good man’s inadvertent slippage into the world of drugs and criminal violence, was never going to be gentle-going. But the brutality on show here is not depicted for its own sake; it’s an inescapable ingredient for what turns out to be a damning indictment of the institutionalised corruption of contemporary Mexico. And amid the bloodshed there are some small, moments of cinematic reprieve to be sure. Be that as it may, it would have given my wife nightmares and I'd not recommend this to sensitive souls and those faint of heart.


Brabantia Flatback+ Pedal Bin, Stainless Steel - 40L
Brabantia Flatback+ Pedal Bin, Stainless Steel - 40L
Price: £129.85

5.0 out of 5 stars A feature-packed bin that's more than the sum of its many parts, 26 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A bin is a bin or so you might think, but this one does have a decent claim to be a cut above given the host of small but significant features it comes with, most of which work a treat… which is a good job really given it’ll set you back more than a hundred quid!
In terms of specs: this is a 40 litre capacity bin (actually not that massive compared to some so do bear that in mind) which takes size ‘L’ Branbantia bags (it comes with one pack included). The height is a little over 2 feet (26 inches to be precise) and at its widest point it measures 17 inches wide. The depth is just 11 inches (a very useful dimension to keep in mind- more of which below!).

So… what of the feautres?
1. Most obvious is the flat-back design meaning less dead space and jutting out from the wall than conventional spherical bins; this is a genuinely useful idea in a modest-sized kitchen where the bin lives in the corner of the room, flush against the wall! I measured and with the bin flush against the wall, at the widest point, it juts out 11 inches into the room- not at all bad going.
2. The lid doesn’t open fully vertical, meaning it won’t clatter against the wall even when the pedal is fully depressed: again, another useful idea (our kitchen wall clearly bears the scars from previous bins that lacked this feature!). There is a minor issue with this however because without the lid at 90 degrees, removing the inner bucket is *slightly* more fiddly.
3. The lid is also ‘soft close’ so, once you’re foot’s off the pedal, it gently shuts rather than slams – another important extra
4. The stainless steel finish is genuinely non-marking – I wasn’t sure about this but it genuinely doesn’t show fingerprints which is yet another massive plus, especially if you have small children, whose sticky fingers normally don’t mix well with stainless steel. That said, I’m not so keen on the steel-finish pedal; I’d sooner that was rubber or plastic or something more durable/easily cleanable.
5. There’s a carry handle on the back of the bin… although that’s hardly an indispensable feature given that a kitchen bin will generally live solely in the same spot of your kitchen and you only ever remove and transport the inner bucket
6. Speaking of which: the inner bucket has little pop-up handles which make removing the bin-liner a real doddle (unlike our last bin which, when full, needed the liner manually prizing out)
7. The build quality is excellent: it’s weighty and sturdy and feels like it will last. The 10 year guarantee is nice but probably won’t be called upon.

Ultimately, spending this much on a bin will be a personal decision but if space is an issue and money isn’t, then I’d recommend this as pretty much the perfect kitchen bin.


Star Wars Rebels Command Star Destroyer
Star Wars Rebels Command Star Destroyer
Price: £44.99

4.0 out of 5 stars "It's Star Wars... and it kills everybody!", 26 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
That was the verdict of my 6 year old nephew, who is Star Wars-potty and digs this greatly. He's at the lower end of the suitable age range, I'd say it's for 6-9 year olds. Pros: Mercifully easy to assemble. Great fun to play with: zooms around to floor; makes a decent set of noises but isn't too loud; the remote controlling is fun; it's easy to use. The size is quite compact. Cons: the build quality is a bit flimsy for the price point and the wings that come out to allow the green balls to come out are difficult close it back up.


LeapFrog Mobile Med Kit
LeapFrog Mobile Med Kit
Price: £12.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Likeable but fairly limited (and awfully packaged) medical-themed play, 20 Oct 2014
This review is from: LeapFrog Mobile Med Kit (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In sum, what you're getting here is a push-along toy 'ambulance' which plays various vaguely-medical themed songs (e.g. 'Head, shoulders knees and toes') and says a bunch of vaguely-health-related phrases when its big red flashing 'siren' is pushed. The ambulance houses 4 toy medical instruments: a stethoscope, otoscope, thermometer and syringe. These can either be played with freely or in tandem with the ambulance which, when its siren is pressed, gives the odd a medical-themed 'task' to complete e.g. 'Take your temperature using the thermometer to see if you've got a fever' etc. Like so many of these sorts of toys, the volume is adjustable but still too loud even on the quietest setting. A minor hit with my child for the timebeing but I forsee a limited shelf-life: the sounds, songs and role-plays 'tasks' are all limited in number and play seemingly at random- so if the child wants a 'task' they would have to repeatedly press the siren and work their way through a bunch of songs and noises until they get one. The instruments don't really 'do' a great deal either. Also, not that any child will mind but this is absolutely the worst-packaged toy I have ever encountered: it literally took me 10 mins with a Swiss army knife to get through all the plastic ties and cardboard- utterly ridiculous!!!


Rapesco 2200 Punch Heavy-duty 2-Hole Capacity 150x 80gsm Black Ref PF220AP1
Rapesco 2200 Punch Heavy-duty 2-Hole Capacity 150x 80gsm Black Ref PF220AP1
Price: £71.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Heavyweight Champion of the Hole-punching World, 12 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a real beast of a hole-puncher: near-professional build quality (hi-spec metal parts), heavyweight and ultra-sturdy, which is a mixed blessing for the home user: the main pro is that it punches holes through thick documents like a hot knife through butter; absolutely effortless for up to 150 pages at a time, minimal elbow grease required... largely thanks to the really generous extended handle (there's no spring mechanism). The main con is what to do with it when you're not busy punching holes- it's simply too large and bulky to sit there on your desk in any typical home office - you really need somewhere designated to put it... with the handle down, it's going to eat up about half a shelf on a typical bookcase. My office is a shoebox so this bad boy currently lives in the garage, which is a bit of a pain if you need to punch holes regularly (which, if you're thinking about spending £70 on a hole-puncher, I'm guessing you are). It really belongs in a print room. Regardless, if you need a 2-hole puncher for meaty documents, and space isn't an issue, then this is going to deliver the best results imaginable - replacing the cutters and boards looks easy too, although that's an extra expense to think about. But if you live somewhere bijou, need something for only occasional use, and/or typically aren't hole-punching Bible-sized documents, then it's going be overkill.


Rapesco Stapler - Full Strip, Power-assisted X5-50f
Rapesco Stapler - Full Strip, Power-assisted X5-50f
Price: £15.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Turbo-charged stapling!, 7 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you've never used a 'power-assisted' stapler before then it might take you by surprise (it did me): it's manually operated and takes bog-standard staples, but after pushing down only a modest amount (enough, say, to staple 2-3 sheets with a normal stapler) it's as if some kind of 'turbo charge' mode is activated; the stapler's power spring mechanism kicks in, generating circa 5kgs of extra power for every 1kg of pressure applied. Like the turbo mode on an automatic car. The result is that you don't have to press down hard, even when stapling thick documents (the blurb says max. 20 sheets but that strikes me as conservative). It's chunkier than average but not huge and is quite weighty, but not excessively so. Another nice touch is the push button front loading -to load staples, rather than crank back the top, you press a purple button on the base and the loading tray pop out. A nice touch but hardly a deal breaker- the main sell is the power-assistance; that's the only reason you might want to fork out three times as much as for a bog-standard stapler... I think, on balance, I'm converted.


Nikko Transformers R/C Optimus Prime Transforming
Nikko Transformers R/C Optimus Prime Transforming
Price: £37.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Instant hit... but short ‘play toy’ shelf-life probable, 29 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Tried this out with a friend who has 3 boys (5-year old twins and a 7-year old)- Optimus Prime is a huge name in her family household. The kids were quite excited on sight of the toy in the big box it comes packaged in. All of them have watched the transformer cartoons so that was helpful. Once switched on the children were thrilled at the lights and noises it was making; its switches are quite basic to work and it lights up and fills the room with the sound of “My name is Optimus Prime” over and over again, which can get quite irritating (but not for the children). It did do as it said i.e. it transformed at the touch of the button - so it was easy for the 7 year old to play with straight away, manoeuvring it from the truck to the robot. There are a few minor issues - it didn’t work well on the rug, but it was fine on low pile carpet and the kitchen table! It's quite expensive for what you get. The toy itself does feel a little cheaply made and the lack of talking (as not much else is said other then repeating his name) leaves you slightly upset and the fact that it takes four AA batteries leaves me thinking that the batteries will probably need changing quite quickly. Slightly overpriced and possibly short lived excitement due to the limited speech and movement means this toy will have a short ‘play toy’ shelf life and be left in toy box unfortunately.


LeapFrog Learning Friends Play and Discover School Set
LeapFrog Learning Friends Play and Discover School Set
Price: £24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice concept toy for introducing the idea of school to toddlers, 29 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This toy is a nice concept – it’s basically a little model school classroom complete with a teacher (giraffe) and pupils (a monkey, a turtle and a tiger- I think you can buy others separately). You slide the teacher to select the school activity (there are 5: greetings, sharing time, story time, break time, free play) whereas the pupils are little free-moving figurines who you can play with on the carousel or the slide. There’s quite a lot to it: by placing the different figurines in different places you activate different modes/sounds (make them talk, sing etc). I could see how this might be a useful way to initially introduce the concept of school to a toddler, although that would require a fair bit of parental participation since this is otherwise quite far removed from the reality of school (my teacher, for instance, was not a giraffe).


Leifheit # 72592 Large Lightweight Deluxe Ironing Board for Steam Generator Irons-Air Steam Premium MAXX
Leifheit # 72592 Large Lightweight Deluxe Ironing Board for Steam Generator Irons-Air Steam Premium MAXX
Price: £80.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Size (and weight) matters, 26 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Got this to replace a bog-standard Minky metal ironing board. The Leifheit is certainly a trade up, although whether it justifies the £130 price point I'm unsure. First thing to say is that it is a bit of a beast, size-wise: 130 x 45 cm They do have a smaller model (38cm wide), but a larger ironing surface does make for a quicker job ironing since you're spending less time re-positioning the clothing and the extra 7 cm is worth it in my opinion. But maybe if you have storage space issues it's worth bearing in mind. That said, once collapsed, the size matters less and thanks to its non-metal construction (it's made from some weird heat-retardant plastic foam) it's actually surprisingly lightweight (we hang ours on a hook in the wall no probs). Second thing to mention is the height adjustment - big plus point of this model, you can raise it very high, way higher than most people would need. I'm 6ft 1" and normally end up stooping when ironing but not with this. The mechanism for adjusting the height is intuitive and robust, in fact the whole thing feels pretty solid and well constructed. In terms of actual ironing performance - I used this with a regular steam iron, not a steam generator (which the tray is designed for- so that means simply leaving a steam iron upright on the board between strokes- no real problem), and was impressed - the fabric cover is dotted with lots of tiny holes to aid with steam permeation and it outperformed my old board somewhat. Odd that it says "only suitable for steam generators or steam stations" since I had no issues whatsoever. I found the spiral mast arrangement with a clip for controlling the lead of the iron pretty pointless but it folds down if you don't use it- no requirement to unscrew. My main quibble is the packaging: the instructions come attached to the cover with plastic ties threaded through the cover (like price tags in clothes) and in removing these I actually ripped the cover a little. That small annoyance aside, I really couldn't think what more one could possibly ask for in an ironing board- although frankly, a Brabantia at half the price will very possibly serve you equally well. If weight is a big concern for you though, I guess this will shade it.


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